Lord, Help Us All

Lord, Help Us All

The other day, I had a bad mommy moment. I rebuked the devil in my son, Micah.

He is the oldest of three and although he is still only five, I expect more from him than the others. On the norm, he is really a very good kid. Kind, thoughtful, and gentle. He definitely has his moments though, and his attitude as of late has hardly been tolerable. It has been terrible actually and has caused the rest of us to live in a constant, thick, dark cloud. It’s difficult to even breathe when he is in one of his disgruntled states.

This particular day, he had been grumpy all morning and was taking it out on his little sister, Kindle. Back and forth they went, and I could hear Micah from around the corner with his angry, bossy, big brother voice, taunting her about how his Legos were better than hers. I was trying to change baby Moses’ diaper and get him dressed as quickly as possible in between screaming over threats to put the two older ones in time out, but my words couldn’t match their escalating bickering. Feeling incredibly outnumbered, I just hoped it would soon die down, but of course it didn’t. It only ended when Kindle broke down into bitter tears and screams from Micah wrestling her to the ground in order to snatch the wings off of her Lego creation which was now broken into a dozen pieces.

I HAD it. That was it. I no longer could stomach this ridiculous tirade that was running the show in our house day in and day out. I ran to the room they were in, grabbed my over grown son under one arm (mommy strength multiplies when angry, I tell you), and marched back to my room. I had him stand against the wall with his hands up in the air while I grabbed the heaviest object I could find. My New King James Study Bible was in arms reach. Perfect. With fire in my eyes, I handed the Bible to him and demanded he hold it up high in the air. If he lowered it even an inch, he was warned that he would be spanked big time.

Then I began to yell. “What is wrong with you?! Why are you being so mean?!!! Tell me!!!!”

He then burst into tears, but only for a second because I interrupted by snapping sternly, “DON’T YOU CRY!”

As he whimpered and struggled to hold back tears, I had no sympathy. Instead, I asked him if his cries were because he felt sorry for what he did and how he hurt his sister or just because he was getting punished.

Snot dripping down over his mouth, he spoke through sobs, “b….b….b….because….I’m…getting punishhhhhhedddddd.”

WRONG ANSWER. “Put your hands up higher! You don’t care your sister is hurt and sad?? You don’t care you are making everyone upset everyday?!”

“N…n…n…ooooooo.”

“You only care about yourself?!”

“Yes!”

Such ugly truth.

The entire time, I was livid. Fuming. Then in a failed attempt to calm myself down, I told him we were going to pray…but maybe that wasn’t such a good idea because this was my prayer. Looking straight into my trembling son’s eyes, I muttered, “In the name of Jesus, I REBUKE YOU SATAN.”

Immediately, I regretted it. And my husband, who almost never questions my disciplining, paused from his work and gave me this questionable look.

Now let’s pause. I wasn’t calling my son Satan. Even at his worst, of course I know he is not Satan. But in the moment, all I could think about was how SINFUL he was and really, the next thing that popped up into my mind was the devil. Well it certainly was not God anyway. So I rebuked him…him being the devil.

But now here was my son with eyes suddenly big and round with shock. He was staring blankly back at me and probably wondering why I was calling him Satan. And I had to explain.

At this point, I was completely sobered from my wrathful outburst and now feeling completely guilty myself. What did I just say to my son??

Both of us quiet, I gathered him into my arms on my lap and kissed the top of his head. For a while, I did not know what to say. “Lord, help us,” was all I could think of followed by, “sorry Micah…I’m not calling you Satan.”

Then I kept thinking. Both of our actions and words had been awful, and while I have always known my own personal need for a Savior, I had almost forgotten my son was no different. He is no longer just a little baby that is completely harmless and innocent. No, he is a big boy. He is a person, a human being who should know right from wrong, and I realized he, too, will one day stand before God the judge.

And what was I going to teach him now? Could I tell him? Would he understand? I’ve told him the gospel many times before, but this felt different than just telling him a story. So I spoke again. With words I thought a five-year-old could understand, I told him why Jesus came.

I started by thanking him for telling me the truth that he didn’t care about his sister, but that that was very wrong. I told him that the truth is, we all do bad things sometimes, and sometimes, we don’t even WANT to do what is right. We are supposed to love each other, but because we are people, we all have sin that makes us bad people who do bad things, and mommy makes mistakes all the time too. The problem is, this is God’s world because He made it and God is GOOD. He is SO good, that when there is something bad, even just a little bad, we should all be punished with time-outs and spankings FOREVER. But God loved us so much that He decided that Jesus will get the time-out instead of us. His time-out was on the cross and it hurt so much, but He didn’t want you to do that so He did it for you. So now, since we are free from our punishment, all we can do is thank Jesus for what He did for us and do our best to follow what He tells us to do and He will always help us.

By this time, Micah was squirming and asking if he could go play, and I was choking up thinking more about my own salvation. So I released him and got on my knees. I prayed and pleaded with God that He would meet with Micah personally one day. That one day, Micah would know His true need for a Savior and that he would surrender his life to Him and even live to serve Him and His people with all his heart.

I knew these were the same prayers of my parents and grandparents and countless others who prayed for me as I grew up. These are the prayers that brought me to where I am today, saved and set free. Now a lover of Christ and mother to these beautiful children, I hope with all my heart that I will one day be able to see the answer to my prayers come to pass in each of their God-given lives. Until then, I will never cease to lift them up as burning incense from the prayers of my heart and lips. Lord, I know you hear me. Lord, help us all.

One Letter, One Step, One Day At a Time

One Letter, One Step, One Day At a Time

I remember being in kindergarten and learning how to write. I sat at my square desk with my feet dangling below, and staring up at the chalkboard, my teacher wrote each letter in her flawless teacher handwriting. I marveled at how perfect each line and curve looked as they came together to form real letters and words and was always excited for my turn to take a shot at it. Sadly, whenever I tried to copy the letters into my black and white speckled composition book, it never looked quite the same. I gripped the big yellow number two pencil, hard pressed between my shaky fingers, and lowered my head to hover just inches above my best attempt. Legible at best, but unrefined and obviously in need of improvement.

Now, 25 years later, my handwriting still hasn’t improved much and still kind of resembles that of a little five-year-old girl’s…with chubby fingers. But I now know, more or less, how to write. Today, I can write long elaborate sentences, journals full of endless and somewhat incoherent thoughts, somewhat scholarly essays, tedious books reports, and quite possibly my own book. And how did I get here? One letter at a time.

These days, I am teaching my own children how to write. I watch them awkwardly hold their pencil, get flustered and frustrated when their marks go too far off the line, and every once in awhile let out deep sighs of pride when they think they’ve gotten it just right. All the while, I cheer them on and often say, “well done!” Then when they catch me writing pages upon page of words they can’t read, much less write, they are a little intimidated. They have that question of, “could I do this?” And while I know that they can, they are not so sure, so I smile and encourage them gently. “One day you will be able to write like this, probably even better.”

Marathoners don’t become runners over night. They train one mile, one block, one step at a time. My dad first taught me that when he challenged me to my first 5K run. I didn’t think I could do it, but as I wrenched with pain somewhere early on, my dad kept screaming, “one more step! ..one more step!” This eventually turned into a thousand more steps or however many more until we ran the whole thing and finally reached the end. In that moment, I realized he was right. It really was one more step. Then another step. And another step. Then we were done.

That day, he told me he knew I could run a marathon one day. Although I smiled up at him, I didn’t believe him really. How could anyone run 26 miles? But years later, I did it, and the entire time, I kept telling myself, “one more step.” And then I was done.

For some people, if not most, every day is an uphill battle. Sickness after sickness, sin, brokenness, lack of purpose, lack of joy, or just simply being bone tired. Every once in awhile there is some reprieve, but hardly enough to fill the void and pain that seems to rule most of life. Some lives are tragically ended too early for this very reason. People are tired of pain, tired of trying. In my own personal seasons of difficulty, I sometimes can’t help dip into dreary thoughts as well. I imagine the rest of my days before me and just wonder what other hardships might come my way. I, too, feel exhausted. Other times, I just don’t feel like I’m doing life well and can’t seem to get it right. I can’t make perfect o’s and my life feels more like that five-year-old, unrefined, rather sloppy kind of quality, no matter how hard I try.

But thanks be to God, life too is just a series of one-more-step’s. We can take one day at a time, one step after another on solid group as the Lord parts the sea for us to walk through His miracles, His providence, His faithfulness in life. It may never appear to be as pretty or polished as we would like it and more difficult than we think we can handle at times, but ONE STEP…. we can do.

One more step. One more step. One. More. Step. And then we will be done. And words cannot express how I wish for that moment for the Lord to receive me into His arms and to say, “well done, Irene.” To that end, I press on.

 

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